uphill gardening

A before and after photo, lest we forget how far we’ve come.

We’ve spent most of the past four weekends working on the garden.

Once the landscapers moved out, booyaa painted the fence while I kept Betsy entertained (out of the way and not liable to get herself covered in paint).

booyaa painting "Betsy's fence"

booyaa painting “Betsy’s fence”

Then we planted the roses, one each side of the rose arch. The star jasmine, after being in a pot for about 7 years, has its own obelisk to scramble up and the honeysuckle too. We have another dinky honeysuckle that’s gone in by the fence, so it’ll grow up a trellis we’ll attach to the fence in the next week or so.

The roses going in the ground, at last

The roses going in the ground, at last

I bought a box full of chamomile lawn plugs to get things started while we wait for our tiny seedlings to develop, so they’ve gone round the stepping stones and patio. There’s some alyssum seedlings gone in the next tier, behind the chamomile, though that’s struggling to bed in. So starting from the path/patio and moving towards the fence it goes: very low-growing chamomile, then slightly taller alyssum and then sloping up to taller plants — cosmos, nigella — and shrubs — a daphne, dogwood, mock orange — beyond them until you get to things like the verbena which towers over the fence.

We found an oriental poppy growing in a pot, though neither of us remember sowing it, so that’s gone in. We have 3 gaura plants which hopefully will colonise the corner as you walk in the gate, and a dozen small lavender plants on the other side of the gate, ready to scent the whole garden.

Because of the delay getting the landscaping done we started off a few plants in pots and some of those have been transferred. Others are still in their pots, dotted around the garden. But there are still huuuuuge gaps. There’s, honestly, more bare soil than plant at the moment. We’ve sown lots of seeds as biennials ready for Spring, but there really isn’t much more we can put in the ground at the moment.

The one thing I’m concerned about with so much empty ground is the ease with which weeds will take hold. There are very many stringy roots under the topsoil which could surge into life, and at this time of year, with lots of rain and sunshine, any weed that can will be forging ahead. So we’ll be working that hoe. (Gangsta jokes straight to the compost heap. Thanks.)

We are talking about putting some grass seed down across the very back of the garden to widen the path and make it easier to get to the shed and the back gate. Neither of us really wants to do this, but we can’t see a way to fill up the garden here while maintaining access to the back gate. (The ground here is a couple of inches higher than we’d anticipated plus the amount of chamomile plugs we’d need, well, we vastly underestimated. We can’t afford to fill that whole section with bought chamomile. It’ll have to wait until we’ve grown it from seed ourselves.)

Along the side return we’ve got a white geranium, some sweet woodruff (very pretty leaves, tiny white flowers in early Summer and a sweet scent to it) and sweet violets. There are lots of gaps here too, but I have sweet woodruff seeds to grow to fill out the border for next Spring. We’ll probably get some Mind-your-own-business to sow along the very edge of the path, to creep along and make a green cover. This area is mostly shaded by the fence. It gets some morning sun, but we’re opting for plants for shade. I hope we made the right call.

The side return (covered with mesh until the plants spread enough to stop someone digging up all the soil...)

The side return (covered with mesh until the plants spread enough to stop someone digging up all the soil…)

We’ve bought some plant hangers to make an edible wall on the side return. The plan for next year is to have a basket of tumbling strawberries — plenty of sunshine up there and they’re out of the reach of slugs and Betsy. The other pots will have kitchen herbs in them, ready to snip and take into the kitchen as needed. Right now, it’s just the basket with some summer bedding in.

And we’ve set up booyaa’s “weird alien plant garden”. This is a half drainpipe, hanging on brackets off the fence along the side return, and it’s filled with tiny little sempervivum (houseleeks) and sedum plants in a few inches of gravel. They’re fascinating little plants and very cute, too. It makes an interesting little feature to look at through the kitchen window as you’re waiting for the kettle to boil.

booyaa's alien landscape

booyaa’s alien landscape

We celebrated our new garden one warm Saturday evening with a few bottles of Sol and a barbecue. Betsy was allowed in the grown ups’ garden while we had dinner and she set about sniffing every square inch of soil. It says something when she’s more interested in the ground than the fish on her dad’s plate. What a pleasure, sitting in what promises to be a really pretty, sweetly-scented garden. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve enjoyed everyday moments like hanging washing out, or wandering around checking up on the plants, to see how they’re settling in. The gentle freshness from the sweet woodruff when it rains and wafts of lavender are lovely.

BBQ time!

BBQ time!

One thought on “uphill gardening

  1. Lynn says:

    Well done again Louise and Mark for a transformation that is simply beautiful. A white space with scented plants and succulents. It looks fabulous. How long will Betsy be confined behind the fence I wonder? Yes, I love hanging up washing too!

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